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"Why does our craving for God persist?"

Posted by Ben on Monday, January 23, 2006 | Permalink

Via a New York Times interview (itself via B&W) comes the news that Daniel C. Dennett has a new book out in March, called "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon".

From the Amazon description:

[Dennett] offers a truly original and comprehensive explanation for religion. What was the psychological and cultural soil in which it first took root? How did it evolve? Is it the product of blind evolutionary instinct or of rational choice?

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Because deep down we know that there is more to us than flesh and blood? Does that make sense to you? This is the reason we yearn for God. This is not our home, and all humans at a deep subconcious level know this, even you Ben.
RHF, 24.01.2006, 1:32am #
It seems to me highly unlikely that Dennet, who so signally failed to explain consciousness can possibly explain religion.

Religion is a broad phenomenon. It ranges from forms of tribalism and irrational superstition through to thoroughly rational meditation on our place in the world. At its core is an existential reality which RHF hints at.
We have to respond to the "human condition" to use that old phrase - even ignoring it is responding to it.

I would suggest that unless Dennet can explain the true subjective reality of consciousness - by explaining exactly in what dimensional frame it is to be observed and discovered - then he will find it impossible to even begin to understand the impulses behind religion.
field, 24.01.2006, 8:59am #
To expand on what I said -

Dennet is the snake oil salesman who tried to pass off a psychological explanation of consciousness (the multiple drafts theory) as a scientific or philosophical explanation which it most definitely wasn't and isn't.

For Dennet to explain our subjective experience of consciousness (which is the thing about which we have the most intimate knowledge) he has to either:

1. Explain where in principle in this four dimensional cosmos it can be observed - just as all the other objects of science can be OR

2. If he saying it lies outside our objective experience of the cosmos, give us some clues as to where it is to be found.

Until he does the above I think we can safely ignore any comments he has on religion since to understand religion it is first of all necessary to have an appreciation of the mystery of consciousness.
field, 25.01.2006, 1:32pm #
Conciousness is not part of this dimension. There is an unseen spirit dimension beyond ours. It exists whether you believe it or not. You can't see it, or measure it. It's something that you pseduo rationalists will have difficulting understanding.
RHF, 26.01.2006, 12:20am #
now what makes you so sure of a spiit dimension where thoughts lie about all day? are you talking aobut the warp? (warhammer 40,000)
Shaggy, 28.01.2006, 7:58am #
bytheby, how would i make a blog? i have an interesting story i learned from a friend and i have no idea how sto start a blog. yes, i fail at blogging life o_O
Shaggy, 28.01.2006, 8:11am #
Shaggy, go to and click on 'Create your blog now', it's the proverbial slice of urine to get going. If you want any help on links and stuff email me and I'll do what I can.
Ben, 28.01.2006, 9:52am #
Shaggy -

All I'm asking is where in this four dimensional cosmos we can actually observe our subjective experiences (the sort of experience you are having now while reading this). If someone could I'd be surprised, interested and pleased. You obviously can't.
field, 28.01.2006, 12:17pm #
well, once again it sounds like youa re talking about a dimension where happy little thoughts drift around.

i honestly beleive thoughts are nothing more then biological reactions made of chemicals and electrical impulses
Shaggy, 29.01.2006, 8:08am #
According to string theory, isn't the cosmos 10- dimensional? Perhaps the thoughts are there.
RHF, 29.01.2006, 2:36pm #
Shaggy -

If you do then I should be able to observe them in the way I can observe other such reactions.
field, 29.01.2006, 3:47pm #
well, maybe one of those theoretical dimensions are filled with the best damn cheese you'll ever know (actually that'd be awesome) i am aware of the string theory, but i fail to see any connection with thought/soul/cheese to another dimension. unless it's something like the warp (where the hell did that come from?)

and yes, i figure you should be able to veiw these chemical reactions. all you need is a warehosue of highly sophisticated equipment and a brain. maybe in the next few hundred years?

just becuase we are unable to explain something doesn't mean we'll never be able to. watch and wait perhaps?
Shaggy, 29.01.2006, 11:57pm #
Shaggy -

Of course you can see the chemical reactions in the brain. But how do you know that those actually are the subjective experiences. Everything I have read suggest that chemical reactions in the brain and body are no different from those outside the brain and body. Why should an exchange of ions in the brain mean sujective experience when located in the brain but not when located in a puddle of mud?

You seem to admit at the end that you have no idea how to explain these things and that we should "watch and wait". It sounds rather like the advice given to the early Christians who were expecting Jesus to return in triumph from the skies. Keep watching and waiting - it's a test of your faith!
field, 31.01.2006, 8:47am #
i don't know...a few years ago we weren't even able to explain how genetics worked and inheritance or the roles of DNA in reproduction...scientists didn't assume it was jeezis or a sueprantural concious causing it, they kept beating the tar out of the mystery until it was solved.

though, i will humbley admit that brain science is not my specialty, yes. i seem to recall a very ammusing instnace where two guys got bored and measured something of jell-o and got brain waves similar to a human adult. very disturbing, one day my jell-o starts talking to me...

we are still progressing at a decent rate and discovering the answers for new questions each day, maybe your thought one may be amongst them one day. But I would give so much just to see humanity in 200 years. but, that's life I s'pose :|
Shaggy, 01.02.2006, 5:01am #
Shaggy -

I agree we are progressing and discovering more each day. What we are discovering is perhaps where we disagree.
field, 01.02.2006, 8:29am #
i must agree with you there
Shaggy, 04.02.2006, 12:02am #

The five different String theories have 10 dimensions but that is not the popular theory now, M-Theory is which has 11 dimensions.

It's easy to say that something exists even though we don't believe in it. I could say that a gnome lives in my garage but you cannot perceive it, doesn't mean it is true or false. Believing doesn't make it true.

Why does thought have to be extra-dimensional? Do you remember what it was like before you were born? If thought was extra-dimensional, shouldn't your thought be separate from your body? Or can you not think without your brain? Does that mean that thought does not exist without the electro-chemical processes of the brain? What about brain damage? If you damage the area of the bain controlling speach, you cannot speak, if you damage long term memory areas, you forget, if thought existed in another dimension then why couldn't someone still remember? How could you have it both ways, that thought exists in another dimension yet is dependent upon the status of the brain, I cannot see that the brain is some kind of conduit between dimensions. It's hogwash.
JGJ, 16.02.2006, 12:24pm #
Well (done boys and girls), I think your conversation is at best pseudo-intellectual (remember the thin red line)! Where's the effin' evidence? Science is at least based on this, religion most certainly relies on (blind) faith - and the bible simply won't do as evidence! Don't get me started on Intelligent Design (... similar £$%^&) as this is just religious fundamentalism.... get up and stand up!!!!

(Show of hands if you really understand string theory! - my guess is that people here are just FoS! - but let me guess you're just brain scientists in disguise)
J, 16.03.2006, 12:54am #
Um, I understand string theory...*raises hand*...but you have to realize that most people don't and to go into details would be over their head. The way I see it, I'll skip the details since there is a lot of information out there on string theory and M-theory that I need not repeat it here to prove any point. If someone has specific questions I'd be happy to help, that includes help with what we know about the brain or neurophysiology.

I agree that Intelligent Design and Creation Science (oxymoron) is a load of huey. Check out this article for an example of how much huey it consists of. The author must have never graduated high school. If this is what Christian Scientists (I hate to put those two words together) would like to teach children then I feel sorry for future generations. If humanity relied on the science of these guys we would still be, technologically, in the fourth century AD.
JGJ, 16.03.2006, 2:27am #
Consciousness is nothing but what it is, lay of the coke/tweak shaggy. For us to explain anything about our "Intelligence" is impossible. Can a frog explain a frog? How can we use what we have to explain our existence when our existence is far more complex then us? What is the point? Why not just be an agnostic and admit you dont know for sure and very likely you will never know.
Sadness, 05.05.2006, 7:43am #
Intelligent design is possible in theory, not probable as say the Evolutionary theory that is layed out right in front of our eyes, but still possible. If you actually argue over this you are a Fool. Their is no argument.
Sadness, 05.05.2006, 7:45am #
Intelligent design is possible in theory, not probable as say the Evolutionary theory that is layed out right in front of our eyes, but still possible. If you actually argue over this you are a Fool. Their is no argument.
Sadness, 05.05.2006, 7:45am #
I meant that DMW's E8 in the bulk is a "third E8" in aotdiidn to the two gauge E8s on the boundary. (By analogy with , this is obviously where the "3" in the famous "ln(3)" comes from... Just kidding.)
Mimi, 27.02.2012, 5:05pm #

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